2023-09 Austin Emacs Meetup

There was another meeting a couple of weeks ago of EmacsATX, the Austin Emacs Meetup group. For this month we had no predetermined topic. However, as always, there were mentions of many modes, packages, technologies and websites, some of which I had never heard of before, and some of this may be of interest to you as well. I was only on for an hour before I had to drop off; hopefully people did not save their bon mots for the period after my departure.

#1 was the organizer.
#2 was a no-show.
#3 was the Esteemed Gentleman From Oklahoma.
#4 was someone whose name was unfamiliar to me. They did not speak during the meeting, at least while I was there.
#5 was a developer in College Station. He also did not speak much.
#6 was a developer here in Austin. He made some small talk at the beginning with the organizer, but dropped off before I did.
#7 was a developer in Virginia.

Here is a list of the modes and packages that were mentioned (I will not list the big ones here, like Org, Doom, Spacemacs):

Non-Emacs Topics:

  • Culture in OKC; high school wrestling is big in OKC.

Note: This time events are arranged by topic/theme, and not chronologically.

#3 spent some time talking about Crafted Emacs. They added a new maintainer, and #3 has been documenting the modules for Mac OSX and evil mode.

At first I thought he said “eel mode”, but I do not think there is an eel mode. There could be and I just don’t know about it. When I think about how likely it is there could be an eel mode for Emacs, is it really quite…..

wait for it


M-x rimshot

Thanks, eel be here all week.

#3 is also deleting some obsolete code and thinks it will be ready for an RC1 release soon.

#7 asked about Crafted Emacs, so #3 gave another off-the-cuff presentation about it by going through his config.

I asked #3 is there were plans to do an intro video when Crafted makes version 1. He said the main System Crafters guy (Dave Wilson) might do one if he feels like it, but #3 has no plans to do one himself. #3 said he is not a video guy, but he does do a good job speaking off the cuff in my opinion. He has done a few presentations on Crafted Emacs already. If we were using Zoom for out meetings, we could just ask it to compile one for us (links to Zoom and AI here and here).

#3 has set up the package archive list in Crafted Emacs to not use MELPA out of the box, but he does not disallow it. He does not like MELPA because packages there tend to be out of date. A good overview of the differences between ELPA and MELPA can be found here; a lot of the packages in MELPA are hosted on Github, and the FSF does not like Github. Per that post, I think the point of NonGNU ELPA is to replace MELPA and de-Github Emacs packages. It is ironic that git is supposed to be decentralized and open source, and yet it wound up being centralized on a site owned by Microsoft.

You can find the list of GNU ELPA packages here, and the list NonGNU ELPA packages here. Anything that gets MS out of my life is good, so going forward I will pay more attention to where the packages I install are hosted. I also have a third-party package URL in my Emacs config. I will have to see which packages I use from there. When I list packages, my package buffer does not tell me which archives my “installed” “dependency” packages come from.

#1, #3 and #7 talked about using Emacs for email. Gnus and mu4e were mentioned. At one point #3 showed us his filters for his IMAP account (I think it was Gmail). I might look into this. Now I use Thunderbird for email, but as I wrote in a non-EmacsATX post, I would like a way to save my Firefox and Thunderbird configs in a way that is more elegant than zipping up my entire profile directory. Keeping them in Emacs Lisp is a better alternative. #3 uses bbdb for his filters. There does not seem to be any sort of manual on the web about bbdb. #7 uses gnus w/his gmail, said somethings were complicated.

I liked the theme #3 was using. It was one of Prot’s themes. I think it was modus-vivendi-tinted.

#3 uses which-key. Which-key seemed to me a lot like Embark, which #2 likes. Perhaps #2 and #3 could have a pop-up showdown.

We also talked a bit about Eshell. I mentioned I had written something about it, the article on Mastering Emacs, and the fact that a lot of people did not seem to know where the manual is. Mickey Petersen replied to my comment and told me that when he wrote the article the manual either was not there, or was much smaller (and less useful) than it is today. Someone posted a link to a page by Howard Abrams about Eshell called Why use EShell? He has a few other pages about Eshell (like here) and gave a talk about it at EmacsConf in 2022. I am trying to replace my use of bash with Eshell. I did not make any promises about having an actual presentation, but I did say I might give an update at the next meeting.

Per the schedule for EmacsConf 2023, it looks like the other member from OKC (aka “The Professor”) will be presenting for his third straight EmacsConf.

This post was created in Emacs with Org Mode and Love. You’re welcome.

I give people numbers since I do not know if they want their names in this write-up. Think of it as the stoner’s version of the Chatham House Rule. I figured that numbers are a little clearer than “someone said this, and someone else said that, and a third person said something else”. Plus it gives participants some deniability. Most people’s numbers are based on the order they are listed on the call screen, and the same person may be referred to by different numbers in different months. A few regulars have regular numbers. Come every month and join the club.

I am not the official spokesperson for the group. I just got into the habit of summarizing the meetings every month, and adding my own opinions about things. The participants may remember things differently, and may disagree with opinions expressed in this post. Nothing should be construed as views held by anyone’s employers past, present or future. That said, if you like something in this post, I will take credit; if you don’t, blame somebody else. You can read the disclaimer, or you can just use the short version: you are on your own and don’t come crying to me if anything goes wrong.

Image from the Gladzor Gospels, a 14th-century Armenian manuscript housed at UCLA (article here, images here); image assumed allowed under public domain.

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